San Diego Loyal Soccer Club to resume play with fans

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego Loyal SC will resume their inaugural season Saturday by facing Real Monarchs SLC in Sandy, Utah, in the first professional team sporting event played in the United States with fans in attendance since March 11.

Fans attending the game at Rio Tinto Stadium will be required to wear masks at all times, except while eating at their seats.

The stadium will be downsized to 5,300 from its usual capacity of 20,700 fans to allow for proper social distancing under the plan approved by state and local health authorities and the USL Championship.

Real Monarchs SLC usually plays in the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium in another Salt Lake City suburb, Herriman, Utah.

Stadium seats and surfaces will be disinfected with virucidal spray before the game. Additional wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers were installed throughout the stadium.

Six-foot markers will be placed on the ground and concourse at all locations where fans might travel such as restrooms, concession stands, team store and stairways.

SD Loyal will wear Black Lives Matter alternate jerseys in an attempt to continue to raise awareness around the importance of inclusivity and diversity, according to team President Warren Smith.

“Loyal is more than just our name — it’s our mantra,” Smith said. “The Loyal in our name is symbolic of the diversity in our community, and now more than ever we stand by this. It’s time to show our loyalty and stand together in the fight against racism and put an end to the violence fueled by hatred against our Black community.”

The jerseys will be a full black kit with dark teal accent with Black Lives Matter across the nameplate on all players. “Together San Diego” will run down the side of each jersey.

At the end of the season, the player-worn jerseys will be auctioned, with the profits going toward the Association of African American Educators of San Diego, which advocates for equity in educational opportunities and outcomes for Black students and staff.

The association will receive 10% of the profits from the jersey sales. The jerseys are available for purchase at soccerloco stores and will go on sale online July 21.

“As a professional sport team, we have a duty to use our voices in a productive, meaningful way to benefit our communities,” said Landon Donovan, the retired U.S. men’s national team star who is SD Loyal’s first-team manager and executive vice president of soccer operations.

“We will not be silent about racial injustice and encourage our fans and community to join us in taking a stand,” he said.

SD Loyal was 1-0-1 and Real Monarchs SLC 0-1-0 when the Division II men’s soccer league suspended play in March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We couldn’t be more excited to finally step on the field again and play,” Donovan said. “Our players have worked incredibly hard for this moment and we couldn’t ask for a better first opponent than the defending USL champs.”

The 1 p.m. game will be televised by The CW San Diego and the Spanish- language cable network ESPN Deportes.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News, Sports